Why is Apple buying up the world’s NAND flash memory supply?

apple-nandApple feasts on NAND memory modules like no other tech company out there. With over $1.2 billion in NAND flash memory purchases for 2007, Apple has cemented its position as the largest buyer of NAND memory chips on the planet. With that kind of volume, Apple’s variable demand for cheap flash memory (which Apple uses in their iPod and iPhone lineups) drives the global NAND market up and down, seemingly on a whim. The latest swing in global flash memory prices has ThinkEquity Partners blaming Apple for eating up the world’s supply of NAND chips.

The question is, just what is Apple up to?

Apple’s refreshed iPhone 3G
Apple might be ramping up iPhone 3G production in anticipation of launching a refreshed iPhone 3G. We’ve been expecting Apple to refresh its iPhone lineup with a new iPhone 3G variant sporting either a larger, higher resolution display; more on-board storage capacity, perhaps 32GB worth; or even both. Apple would need a lot of NAND memory chips to build out a fleet of 32GB iPhone 3Gs.

Apple’s CDMA iPhone 3G
If Apple is indeed planning to bring their iPhone 3G to Verizon Wireless, they’d need to start slapping together a new batch of iPhone 3Gs with CDMA radios. Regardless of the number of iPhone 3Gs sitting in stock-rooms the world over, Apple will have to crunch out more CDMA variants if it plans to blitz the US market. But, rumors being what they are, leave Apple’s CDMA iPhone 3G intentions in doubt.

Apple’s next-generation iPhone
Not the iPhone 3G, but perhaps an iPhone 4G (or whatever it ends up being called)? Unlikely as it might be, Apple might already be planning a new iPhone form-factor. From the rumored iPhone Nano to the iPhone Tablet to the iPhone HD to the multi-core iPhone, Apple has been rumored to be working on all sorts of super-portable mobile devices packed with NAND flash memory. Is Apple poised to launch a new breed of iPhone or some other portable mobile device? Time will tell…

Got an opinion? Sound off in the comments!

[Via: AppleInsider]

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